Victorian London - Education - Professional/Technical Colleges/Institutions - Royal Panopticon of Science and Art

[later the Alhambra, ed.]

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The building now in course of erection on the eastern side of Leicester-square by the Corporation of the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art, will, it is expected, present a finished specimen of the Saracenic style of architecture, a style which has as yet no perfect exemplification in the metropolis; and while on the one hand the erection in question will attempt to convey to the spectator a model of Moorish grandeur, it will, at the same time, be no servile copy of any existing edifice. The splendid remains at Cairo have afforded much that is now reproduced; and it is from an actual Dageurrotype of one of the mosques that the model of the dome has been taken, whose intrinsic beauty in this instance affords an ample apology for the strict adhesion of the architect to the magnificent original. The imposing  facade which this structure will present towards Leicester-square will be by no means diminished by the two lofty minarets which rise on either side to a height of upwards of 100 feet; and from which, we understand, it is proposed to exhibit powerful lights.
    Passing through the vestibule or entrance, the spectator will be at once ushered into a grand circular hall of a diameter of ninety-seven feet, surrounded by three galleries, placed one above the other in the circumference of the building; and destined, as well as the centre, for the reception of works of art and industry, models of manufactures and scientific apparatus, and thus to afford the most agreeable opportunity to the sight-seer to mingle instruction with amusement. We must not forget , however, to mention that a very considerable space in the great circular hall will be allotted to an extremely large and powerful organ, to be built for the Corporation by Messrs. W. Hill and co., whose success at Birmingham warrants every expectation which the most sanguine can form as to the compass and execution of the instrument entrusted to their construction.
    The other portions of the building, though less striking, will nevertheless be first-rate of their kind; the lecture-rooms, laboratory, and offices will be of such dimensions and finish as will well warrant the beauty of the external edifice.
    The original promoter of the institution is Mr.E.M.Clarke, who, having obtained the Royal charter under which the institution has been founded, has parted with the same to the gentlemen now forming the Council, at whose deliberations he, however, assists.

Illustrated London News, Jan.-June, 1852